My email policy

In an effort to increase my own personal productivity and improve my work-life balance, I am only treating emails on Sundays and Wednesdays. This idea came to me as a direct result of re-reading Tim Ferriss’ “4 Hour Work Week” this summer.


In one part of the book, Tim discusses the Pareto principle and its many applications in business and personal work. Looking at how I spend my time, I listed working activities and tried to identify which ones are the most crucial and how much time I spend on them (and when). With regard to email, I saw that I was basically reading and replying to emails all the time, with little special effect. What I should be doing all the time is developing and delivering learning solutions. Or having a life!

Example: During the pauses in a training day, my participants would go off to eat, drink a coffee or just get some fresh air. They would regularly ask me if I was coming and I would reply that I’d first check my emails. Before I knew it, the break time was up. This was happening almost every day. I have decided now to prioritise break time!


Another part of Tim’s book got me asking myself: What are the things that I appear to be very efficient at, but which are not necessarily mission critical tasks? Again: Email!

When I started as a freelancer, I didn’t own a Blackberry. I would train all day (except for having breaks!), get home late and then read my emails. My wife was not happy! (Nor was I). So, I bought a Blackberry in order to receive, read and reply to emails and no longer be restricted to my laptop connection. Read email whenever I wanted?! Wow! Result: Read email all the time! Even on holiday… I had become extremely efficient at replying to email. A colleague of mine recently told me she didn’t know anyone who replied as quickly as I do. But what was I winning? Did other people reply to me as quickly? No! Did I spend all my free time replying to email? Yes!


From now on, I will only be looking at email at 2 specific times during the week. I figure that anything urgent should not be done with this medium anyway and I can always change my mind and revert back to my Crackberry life if the addiction rears it ugly head again.

I’m quite confident that this will not dissatisfy anyone and if it does, let me know.

And if you don’t get an answer quickly enough, give me a call 🙂


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About Dan Steer

Wandering corporate trainer, learning and development consultant, conference speaker and professional El-Magico. I help people get better at stuff by creating and facilitating Infinite Learning © opportunities. The world would be a better place if everyone was doing what he loved and doing it well. I am working to bring out the "El Magico" in everybody. Training in presentation and communication skills, leadership, social media for learning and marketing, learning and development management + personal effectiveness.

Posted on August 27, 2011, in Resources, Self-Effectiveness. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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